Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17th, 2011

I used to have this lofty goal, to never have any record of getting involved with the police....
But, I guess that's history now!! =)

Tuesday night a week ago was incredible. When I look back, I can only say that God was looking out for me, protecting me, and teaching me an important lesson!

I am excited to share this story, because it's pretty awesome =)

With only two days left of the semester, and many changes boiling just on the horizon, Tuesday I decided to get away for an hour. It was late at night, after the special preaching conference at church, and I wanted to get off-campus - my roommates had the room a chaotic disaster in their packing. Hopping in the car, I cruised out the gates and onto 10th Street, into the dark.

It was quiet, peaceful, perfect. I pulled into an empty parking lot and shut off the car, absorbing the solitude. It was around 11pm. The city was shrouded in deep darkness. I left my seat buckle on, but reclined the driver's seat and settled back to pray and think.

After just a few minutes, I saw a really awesome spectacle: a helicopter flying low over the trees, coming down the street with its powerful beams sweeping back and forth. It hovered slowly, low to the street, and rumbled along with the steady speed of a dumptruck. I was enamored, watching with the curiosity and fascination of a little child. I'd never see one that close. =)
He passed along the street by my car, moving along on, doing his thing. After a minute, I went back to my own business. Interesting moment over! Or so I thought....
You know that feeling you get when something is just "not right"? Maybe it's intuition. Maybe it's a sixth sense. Suddenly a chill running up your spine, and your little hairs stand up like little soldier, transfixed. You really DON'T want to turn around. Sound familiar?
Well, I did.
Actually, I looked to the left out my window and saw a man.
A BIG man.
A TALL man.
A BLACK man.
A man. About half an inch away from me through the questionable protection of the window glass.
And me, a tiny little girl all alone in a car in a dark parkinglot.
I really can't capture the details of what happened next; I really don't remember through the turmoil of terror and surprise. I understood he was trying to get in; I couldn't find my horn; I dropped my cellphone off my lap; I couldn't find my horn; I couldn't get my seat to pull back into its upright position; I couldn't find my horn!
As quick as the blink of an eye, he was running around to the other side of my car to get in that way. THRILL of TERROR! I was buckled in, and there was no way I could reach across fast enough to try to lock the other doors.
But, Praise God, they were already locked! He tried both doors, determined to get it at me. I wonder what he was thinking; my screams and unintelligable shouts weren't slowing him down one bit.
Suddenly he was gone.
Running off into the night, like a shadow, skirting along the edge of the street as he spanned the distance of the parking lot, he was gone. The greater the distance he put between us, the better. I watched him run, and probably quite idiotically, sat there in my car dumbfounded. What had just happened?
Before much of anything could get processed, a new complication came on the scene. Police cars, llights flashing, raced down the road in my direction. Whoa. Not anything new - 10th Street is one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city - but still an unexpected arrival. As they came rushing by, lights sweeping through the darkness, I had a realization.
Police cars.
Shirtless man running through the parkinglot.
Maybe a correlation?
I sat there, freak out, as I watched the helicopter sweeping its beams of the trees and the cop cars flashing in tandem. Could they see the man in the darkness? Did they know where he was, like I knew? Did they know what he had done?
And what could a man do... to initiate such a response from the police force? Where they... chasing him? Was that a high-speed chase I was in the middle of? Was he a runaway convict? A murderer? Rapist? Worse?!
As I came to the conclusion that the only reasonable explanation was they were, indeed, chasing that man, I had the urgent need to make sure they got him. I knew where he was; I could still see him. But I was suddenly overwhelmingly worried they wouldn't see him. I had to tell them.
Turning on my car, forgetting about the seat or the horn, I sped off after the police vehicles, flashing my lights furiously. As I approached, before I was too close, suddenly the helicopter was above me, bathing the street in fierce white light, and the cop cars swerved onto the sidewalk. Jumping from thier cars, rushing in the same direction - I saw the man materialize in the darkness, throwing up his hands, being wrestled to the ground, cops everywhere.
Hands shaking, I sped by and pulled into another parking lot a few blocks down. I watched, completely unsure of what to do, as the helicopter and police cars converged in a tight, busy little circle. Eventually, the minutes ticked by. And finally... they all left...
I drove back to campus and pulled in the gates at the security tower, where the guard greeted me as per protocol. But for the first time in six months of casually passing by that station, I felt enormous gratitude for the safety it represented.
A long story made short, I spent most of the night in the security tower with the guards. As soon as they heard what happened, they closed down the campus and called Jude Buffington, head of security for the college. He lived just across the street where he could keep endless vigil, and came over right away with his beautiful German Shepherd, Masey, trained and at attention. I felt so much safer with her near me! They called the police, my head RA at the dorm, my sister, and both Dean of Students.

A bottle of water for the stress, a tootsie-roll pop for the nerves, and I was sitting on a stool talking to a serious-faced, midde-aged lady copy to give my report. She was actually one of the officers who had been in the cars that carried out the chase and arrest, and so she was very interested to hear my perspective of the incident.
He was a wanted "gang-banger," she informed me, dangerous and brutal. They'd been trying to get him off the streets for a long time, watching him closely on thier radar, waiting for the opportunity to pounce. That very night there had been a gangfight that broke out across the east end of 10th Street, and this gangster ended up attacking an innocent bystander. When the police started chasing him, he took off into the night.
This man ran through the empty parkinglots until he came across me, and my car. Where would he have stopped? Just dragging me out and stealing my car? Or...?
The police officer was just as moved as I was. "Really, I should not be talking with you right now. If I've ever seen a God-thing in my line of work, I saw it tonight," she said to me. Wow. "It is incredible all your car doors were locked."
What an experience!!!
I don't think I'll ever forget it. I surely learned some things that night, and was humbled that my heavenly Father was watching out for me. Sometimes, just little things count the most. Like locking all the doors, instead of just mine... God knew, even if I didn't. And what seemed insignificant to me, He knew would be ultimately vital.
I'm happy to be alive and around, let me tell you!! =)
Now school is over... what a way to end the year! And, I'm in my beloved Pekin, IL, to help my best friend get married, and just relax for the first time this year.
My next post on all the fun of the wedding will be coming up shortly =) Hope everyone is having a great start to thier summer!
Psalm 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Picture Post!

I went to Nichols Hills, the neighborhood where I work at Panera Bread, and took some pictures with my sister....

The night of the Graduation/Spring Banquet!

The senior guys....

Hanging out later at Bricktown...

Mrs. Jett, dean of women, and I...

Bricktown, Oklahoma City...

Pastor Jason Gaddis and Mrs. Angie and myself (pastor and wife of Southwest Baptist Church)...

Bro. Copes and wife, the executive Vice President of Heartland...

Bro. John & Ms. Grace Lande, college and career director at Southwest Baptist Church....

The last Sunday at church, my Pre-teen Sunday School class went out to watch Bro. Ben kiss a pig....

My Heartland coworkers at Panera Bread!

The beautiful neighborhood of Nichols Hills....

Southwest Baptist Church, view from the balcony....

Hanging with Joy at On the Border....

On the Border with girls from Heartland for my sister's 23rd birthday...

The preaching in the chapel at Heartland Baptist College....

The college choir in which I sing at Heartland....

I know that I have a great story to share... but I promised the photos, first, so here you go!

Enjoy! =)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Days!

Hey everyone!

It's summer!! =) It's about 90 degrees outside, the beautiful sun blistering down on Oklahoma City with shimmering, relentless waves of heat. Lovely! I'm a big fan of the heat, and even the humidity - the kind that hangs heavy in the air, like a sinking cloud, and if you stick out your tongue and close your eyes, you might taste it. =)

The semester has only 3 days left. The end is coming so fast, like a train hurtling along the tracks of the countryside. I can hardly catch my breath! Today is the last day of work at Panera Bread. This is sad, sad, sad, sad... I am going to miss my work here so incredibly much! It has been the most exciting part of this new life. Thankfully, of course, I'll be returning someday... but it is still hard to walk away. =(

Friday, May 6th, was the Graduation Spring Banquet at college. It was also my sister's birthday! The occassion was really full-tilt, and a bit overwhelming. I planned to go all semester, but then the plans had changed and I crossed it off my planner. But then when I realized it was my sister's birthday, I ended up going to spend some time with her. It was really an experience, and there were some definitely highlights! The banquet was hosted in a ballroom downtown, decked out with satin-draped chairs, crystal wine glasses, and plasma screen TV's. Graduates were recognized, the White Hot Chocolate quartet sang a special (my favorite singing group here! they're awesome!), and a speaker gave a lengthy charge. The formal atmosphere was lightened when the guys at my table realized I was making my glass sing by absently running my finger along its rim. They went all out and soon got the tables next to us to try it out, too! =) I was amused.

The menu was delicious! My apologies to Terry and Ladeana in the caffeteria, but it was nice to have an upscale meal =) A southwestern salad and sun tea preceded the entree of baked chicken stuffed with tomatoes, spinach, and mozarella cheese; double-baked potatoes and mixed sauted vegetables were the sides; chocolate pyramids drizzled in sauce with fresh berries and hot coffee were served for dessert. Scrumptous!! =)

After the banquet, it was picture-taking time! Unfortunately, I haven't found my cord to download the pictures from my camera onto the computer. But I plan on posting them soon! I actually have several events whose pictures I am going to post =)

Loading up into the car, we drove further downtown to the old historic Bricktown, which is quite incredible. It's impossible to adequately describe this sector; you have to see it yourself! Originally there were huge brick factories clustered in this area of town, way-back-when, as Oklahoma City was just founded. Eventually these wharehouses and factories closed down. Rather than falling to decay and rotting away or becoming haunting skeletons like I've seen especially across the Soviet Union, these mammoth buildings were preserved and turned into a tourist trap and local attraction. A manmade canal was carved along the old streets, floating boat rides to access the different buildings! The canal was lined with waterfalls, gardens, fountains, gardens and quaint bridges. The wharehouses themselves became home for cafes, restaurants and bars, theatres, suvenoir shops, and music academies. Amazing!! Starbucks is one of the businesses off the water =) It is amazing to walk along the canal or ride a boat under the bridges lit up with Christmas lights, enjoying the scent of the fresh spring flowers and the music from the many cafes. So unique!! So magical and fun =)) Along the streets, horses pull carriages and bands perform on the street corners. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people get out to enjoy the lights and food and atmosphere as they stroll through this modernized peice of local history.

I was impressed! =)

So much to write, because so much is going on!

This week is Graduation Preaching Conference. Which means no more finals... no more classes... and no more work. Just preaching and singing and getting spiritually rejuvenated for the summer!! I am really looking forward to this time. I am excited for what God has to teach me. This has really been a revolutionizing semester for me, and although the future isn't necessarily stellar, I am looking forward to it with more confidence. =)

And... packing!! GAH! I have so much packing to do! Probably because I'm an organizing freak, so it's frustrating to decide exaclty how to pack everything. And, it's complicated because I don't have a house to go drop off the books and projects I've completed. All the finished work of the years has to stay with me, and the pile is getting bigger and bigger... a miniature volcanoe. =) I also have to keep clothes for all four seasons, and et cetera. Let's just say it's a real challenge to deal with! Haha. Please pray for perserverance and grace!

So, I'm about to clock into work for the last time... it's sad...

But it means only a few days and I'll be back in PEKIN, ILLINOIS!!!!! -happiness- =)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 5th, 2011 - Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!! =D

I walked into work today, deleriously happy after having soaked in the blistering sunshine during the 20-minute ride from college, feeling energetic and rejuvenated and on an early-summer high. Sang out hellos to the guys on The Line, dropped off my personal affects in the lockers, and then skipped across the Back of the House to take a glance at the deployment sheet (fingers crossed I'm not under Production...)

I was stopped in my tracts by the baker's table taken hostage in a Mexican party theme, complete with nacho chips, taco shells, and bowls of fillings - ground beef, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, refriend beans, cheese, etc.

I've never observed this holiday until today, but, boy, my day shot sky-high as I scooped up some DELICIOUS Mexican food and decided this was a great day to celebrate! =D

I hope everyone else is having such a good day!

On another note, today was the last chapel service for the semester! Tomorrow is my last final!! And in only 6 short days, this chapter of life will close forever into the slot called history. WOW!

Looking ahead to summer and beyond, I really want to take a hold of this blog and revolutionize it a bit =) You can perhaps feel my enthusiasm with the energetic sunshine of summer. So much to do!! But writing has always been my first passion, and I want to try to focus more here.

How about input? I'd love to meet my readers! Really. I know that I have quite a few "silent" readers out there, who follow my posts but don't comment. And I don't want anyone to feel pressured to comment, though I love hearing feedback through the comments, I do want to encourage some participation for the direction of this blog =)

So, step up and say hey! =) Drop me a line at ukrainebaptist4@yahoo.com and let me hear from you! Some questions I'd love to hear answers for are

-How did you hear about this blog?

-What do you like best in the posts?

-Anything you would like to see change?

-Longer, more detailed posts or shorter, more frequent posts?

-Anything I haven't covered that you would like to read about?

-And of course, I'd love to hear about what's going on in your lives for the summer 2011!!!!

So, looking forward to hearing from you all!!

On my front, things are looking crazy busy for this summer. In exactly a week, I'm driving up to Chicago (Pekin) Illinois for two weeks to help my best friend and her fiance get MARRIED!! Woot woot! =) Yup, I'm the maid of honor and it's crazy, but so much fun!

Next, I'm meeting up with my sister at O'Hare and flying to Helsinki, Finland! =) After a quick tour there, it's finally hope to KHARKOV!! And boy, I absolutely cannot wait! Which, actually, this is a very new feeling for me, being the little girl always ready to fly the coop =P Homesick? Haha, yes! I'm finally experiencing it, and have found myself SO GRATEFUL for my wonderful, imperfect but perfectly mine, family! Hopefully, I'll be giving a Bible study with the young ladies of the church, and helping in the deaf church, and the Sunday School, and evangelism!!!!!!

Then the beginning of July will find me hitting the road again, flying to London! =) I love, love, love that city! It's amazing, really. Go visit if you get the chance! From London, I'll return to Oklahoma City...

And the rest of the summer I'll be (Lord willing) happily back at work at Panera Bread, a certified trainer, living oncampus at Heartland. I'm looking into a second job right now to fill in the hours that currently are occupied by studies. And

Please pray with me as I consider several aspirations for the future. Lots of avenues to follow, and the decisions are all weighty. I want God's will for me, and I'm excited to see what He's going to do with my life! It's not all easy. It's not all bright and beautiful. But I'm trusting that, ultimately, it's all a pattern for an exquisite dream that God set into action when he created me. =)

Leaving you with a verse: Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 2nd, 2011


(to me, from me)

Because my bio may say I was born September 8th, but as of yesterday many many years ago =) I was given a second birthday, a new family, and a fresh life! Yes, I've been born again. And that reality makes every day worth living. Because I have someone to live for - God! He's my father, and my friend, and I have his eternal love.

God's love has really been something that I have come to a greater appreciation for during the course of this semester. God's approval on my life, his patience with my shortcomings, his encouragement with my growth to higher peaks in the future. I have an awesome God, and it's really sad today to think that many of the people around me (at work, at the mall, etc.) have lives void of his fulfilling presence. Earthly love has its ups and downs, its thrills and its anguish, its triumph and its failure. But God's love for me? It's perfect. It's never going away. And he only offers me more of it, each day, as much as I would like to claim.

What could be a better inspiration to wake up each day, looking for ways to please him and make him smile that, yupp - I'm his daughter, and yupp - I love him, too!

Over the weekend my college hosted a Southern Gospel Jubilee, during which I heard a very sweet, touching song about Tomorrow. The lyrics were so perfect - Fear not tomorrow, God is already there. He's already plotting the course I will take, he knows each hidden snare. Fear not tomorrow, God is already there. I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand!

I liked that thought that he's already planning out tomorrow, and he's already experiencing everything that he will let me go through. What a thought! This really makes me wonder why I may think I have a right to complain, be frustrated, disappointed, or upset. Can't I just trust God and accept his plot for my life?

Well, it's been a really long semester. =)
At the same time, really short! Time is funny that way.

More recently than not, God has put in my path a young lady with an incredible story. She has been such a help and encouragement to me, in a way I was unexpecting could happen. I have felt very honored that she's opened up her past, and the lessons learned, in order to strengthen my own present & future. I feel sad because our ways are parting.

Today I opened my mailbox, and I found a note with her handwriting. I often laugh because people misspell my name (the masculine, German Noel, rather than the feminine, French Noelle). She seems to be creative - she took my name, and made an acronym of it, perhaps to remind me that my name (who I am) is a perfect plan of God, with a perfect story in His eyes. I was tickled, and thought I'd share:

N - never underestimate your worth to God!
O - only worry about what God can't handle!
E - enjoy the blessings that God sends your way!
L - live for God and life won't be wasted!
L - lean on God and he'll carry you through!
E - every day is a chance to make a difference!


Onto a livelier note,
Has anyone heard of Route 66? It's one of the old highways, as seen in the Disney movie Cars, and it runs through Arcadia, Oklahoma, about forty minutes away from my new college. Well, situated on the side of this old highway is a gas station/local landmark, called POPS.

This over-sized petroleum transfer station has an exaggerated amount of parking space off to the side cut into a green field, and if you go near the lunch or dinner hour - it will be full to the brim with visitors from all over the area. Erected near the entrance, just off the graveled edges of the highway stands a tall metal sculpture of a soda bottle, complete with colossal straw! It is 66 feet tall!! And the walls of the gas station are a story and a half high, sheer glass, lined with miles of shelving. Proudly displayed on all these shelves, visible through the glass for all the cars driving by to see?
Soda bottles!
Literally thousands and thousands of them. Every jeweled color - orange, blue, green, pink, yellow, red, purple, glinting and capturing the artificial lights.


For real. =)

Pops is just a gas station that houses a collection of old-fashioned, modern, and imported sodas. There were probably upward of 300 soda brands being sold. I can't even remember them all! Jones, Crush, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Love Potion 49, Leningrad, Fizzy Lizzy, Old Brooklyn, Berghoff Chicago, Dang! That's Good, Nehi, etc. You could pick anything you liked, from hundreds of flavors! It was amazing =) =)

Pops also has a mom-and-pops old-fashioned style cafe, which serves amazing classic American cuisine like an Edmond burger (my choice!) - 1/4 pound beef, sliced hot pastrami, sauteed mushrooms, swiss cheese, bacon, mmmm!!! =) Chili cheese fries, hotdogs with saurkraut, grilled cheese, onion rings, etc. Such a great atmosphere! =)

So for the fun of it, I included the website for Pops. Go check it out! =) Be sure to open the tab "Landmark!" It has all the fun info!

On a different note, today is the first day of finals! They will last this week, and that's the end of the academic year... wow...

I hope that this is a good month for all my readers. I hope you see God's love for you. I hope you trust in his steady hand. I believe the biggest lesson God has taught me at Bible college can be simply explained in 3 verses.

1 John 2:8 "...the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." What a praise! When God brings blessings into my life, and shows me his goodness, and leads me up onto a mountain top.

Job 30:26 "when I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for the light, there came darkness." When Satan attacks, when God sends me through a trial, when the valley is low and the sadness or fear intense. When there seems to be no end.

This semester, God has opened up his key to survive between these two extremes. A balance, I said when I voiced what I was seeking. Balance for my spiritual, emotional, and even physical state.

The answer is in Psalm 139:10, 12. The first, a verse that has long been fiercely dear to me; the latter, a new revelation of God in my life. Because there will always be darkness with the light...

"Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."

God will never change. In the light. In the darkness. The circumstances, the giddy happiness or excruciating grief, do not influence the character and presence of God. The balance is in trusting in God. A hard thing to do! But the only way.

So with the new month, May, I wanted to share these thoughts with my dear readers. I hope that they will work some difference in someone's life and perhaps be an encouragement. Summer is on the doorstep, and with all the inevitable changes life will soon undergo for everyone, I pray that we will all remember Psalm 139: 10&12